Karim Benzema has always been an important figure at Real Madrid but, this season, he has emerged more crucial than ever.
At the RCDE Stadium against Espanyol, the Frenchman scored twice and put in an all-round display worthy of any player in the world.
The performance has many people believing that the Benzema of the current campaign is the best version of the forward since his arrival in the Spanish capital in 2009.
"I am a no.9 with the heart of a no.10," he said after the match, and it is evident based on his unselfish displays.
Benzema's importance to the Madrid setup this season is evidenced in his numbers, having played 2,607 out of a possible 3,180 minutes.
The match at Cornella was the 35th of the campaign, only missing out two: in the second legs of the Copa del Rey ties against Melilla and Leganes.
Across Europe's top five leagues, no other striker has played more minutes or matches.
The dependence on Benzema was also demonstrated by the recent decision to not operate on the player's fracture of his little finger suffered at Real Betis.
"It hurts but, when the ball is moving, everything is forgotten," Benzema said.
The 31-year-old is tied on 15 goals with Luis Suarez this campaign, even though the Uruguayan has played six matches less.
Five of those Benzema goals have been headers, with only Robert Lewandowski at Bayern Munich managing more (8).
Los Blancos have scored 72 goals this season, with Benzema directly involved in 20 (15 goals and five assists).
Benzema was, as ever, key in the 4-2 Copa del Rey first leg win over Girona last week, and it seems that he could be given a rest for the return game.
It will be merited, if he eventually does sit out, particularly with the Madrid derby and the Champions League second round tie against Ajax looming.
Source: Marca / Miguel Ángel Lara